My eldest is strong willed. I’m pretty sure if you look that word up in any dictionary, right beside that word as clear as my foggy mom eyes, you will see her name in BOLD CAPITAL letters.
And you know what? I’m actually okay with that.
Is she a challenge some days, yes. Does she fight with me, yes. Is she a strong independent three year old, yes. And is her desire to be older than she is stronger than me wanting her to be? No bloody way.
This kid was born her way, late for the party but when she arrived she made her entrance as dramatic as her personality is now. I always say something changed when she turned 18months. That is when my sweet baby toddler turned into her strong willed alter ego never to return again. We moved her into her toddler bed at 20 months because she was smart enough to wear us down to our bare studs that we had no choice but to do it. I dropped her off at ‘school’, aka daycare, when she was just over two and the second day she literally told me to ‘stay in the car, I can go on my own.’ She chooses not to hold my hand while we are crossing streets but rather stay close to me and the stroller – definitely not her stroller since she has walked EVERYWHERE on her own since the day she started taking steps.
She now goes to school once a week and is very proud of the fact that mama does not come in. She closes the door when she is on the potty for “privacy”. THAT is the funniest thing to date since I am pretty sure I have to braid her hair while trying to stop her sister from emptying the cupboards all while I should be having my own “privacy”. She picks out her own clothes (my Type A fashion response is very hard to control when those outfits are hideous), she buckles her own seat belt, ties her own shoes and puts her dirty dishes in the dishwasher. She is as independent as they come. Does it make us late for most of our daily events? Yup, no question. Do I really care? Nope, I’m on toddler time.
I know you have all heard the saying that “strong willed children will be leaders some day”. This is not my reason. Of course I would like my child to be a leader of something grand that makes her happy and successful but my reason is much simpler. I want her to be independent, a problem solver, opinionated on what matters to her and to be able to stick up for herself, whether it’s now, on the playground, in school or in the workforce. I am so proud when she fights with me. In that scrunched up face, wrinkled nose and her bouncy curls, I see me arguing with me and god dammit I friggin love it. She is so passionate about her beliefs, as silly as they are to me they mean the world to her and so they should.
If she wants to mix all the play-doh colors together (cringe) because she likes the color she created or wear her dance tutu with vans to a family dinner because “I just want to mom” or sleep with her fuzzy ear warmers because they are soft and cozy who the hell am I to stop her? What gets me through my day is knowing that she is turning into exactly what I hoped for; her true individual self. My job as a parent is not to mould the perfect child that abides by all the rules (except the ones that keep them out of jail) but to let them be kids, themselves, explorers. I can sit back with my glass that sometimes turns into a bottle and enjoy the show because we all know how dramatic threenagers can be.